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Synchrony Bank Request for Credit Reports with No Permissible Purpose Class Action

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The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs consumer credit reporting in a number of ways. One of its provisions is that no third party may get a report on a particular consumer without a valid purpose. However, the complaint for this class action alleges that Synchrony Bank performs a “hard pull” to obtain credit reports on consumers when it has no permitted reason to do so.

The class for this action is all persons with an address in the US whose consumer credit report was obtained by Synchrony Bank, without a permissible purpose from any of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian), between May 23, 2014 and May 23, 2019.

For the purposes of the FCRA, the complaint says, the term “consumer report” refers to “any written, oral, or other communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer’s creditworthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics, or mode of living” which may be used as a factor in extending credit to a consumer.

To preserve privacy, third parties are not allowed to obtain consumers’ credit reports if they do not have a proper purpose. The FCRA lists permissible purposes for the requesting of credit reports. For example, if a consumer applies for a credit card, the credit card company will want a credit report to see how promptly the consumer has been paying bills and whether the consumer owes significant amounts to other credit card companies. Employers also sometimes request consumer reports before hiring new employees, and landlords may want to make sure the consumers can pay the rent before taking them on as tenants.

Synchrony Bank issues credit cards, but plaintiff Douglas Tucker had not applied for one. He did not have a current credit card, account, or debt with Synchrony either. Still, on March 4, 2017, Synchrony made a “hard pull” on his TransUnion credit information, requesting a credit report without any permissible purpose. 

Tucker only discovered this when he reviewed his TransUnion credit report dated September 24, 2018. Because Synchrony had no permissible purpose for the report, the complaint says, its credit inquiry “was unauthorized and illegal and was an invasion of privacy.” 

Presumably, Tucker is not the only person whose credit report Synchrony obtains in this manner for its own purposes. The complaint therefore brings this suit as a class action, asking for “[s]pecial, general, compensatory and punitive damages” as well as the costs of the suit.

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